Reestablishing a Rhythm

When everything around you appears in disarray…your thoughts befuddled and nothing makes sense…there is usually 1 of these 2 things going on: “creational chaos” or exhaustion.

Creational chaos is a phrase I use to describe a normal pattern that occurs when life is organizing into a new way of being or living.

Exhaustion occurs from sustained imbalance over time, regardless of the mechanism, and the body needs to rest.

Sometimes creational chaos and exhaustion occur together.

Regardless of one or both, during these times, it is best to let everything go for a period, and to give yourself a breather and reestablish a rhythm. Very often, the winter time is when both of these states set in: we are forced to be inside and things that we can ordinarily distract from come forward.

The following are a few suggestions for balancing and reestablishing a rhythm:

Go back to the basics: sleep, food, movement AND being with something larger than yourself, such as prayer or being in nature.

Set a regular sleep time every night. If you are a parent as I am, this can be hard, but you can at least try this: An hour before going to bed, turn off all wireless devices, computers and t.v.’s. If you can, take out wireless devices and tv’s from your room, or set your phone to airplane mode. Allow yourself to let go of the day, and say a prayer of gratitude for what you have. Dim the lights and take pleasure in brushing your teeth and caring for yourself.

Allow yourself to meet the darkness that comes from being in the darkness. We all have spots that we can distract from when constantly moving and doing. While initially those distractions can help us cope, distractions over time become pathological and set our body up for illness and hormonal imbalance.

(Example: As a healer, I am used to dwelling in the caves of other’s darkness, but I didn’t realize just how claustrophobic I could get within my own darkness until we went caving this summer. At Wind Cave in South Dakota, a sacred site and birthplace of the Sioux nation, we took an elevator down 450 feet to get to the cavern. Out of nowhere, I started to feel pressure at my chest, I broke into a sweat, and my whole body started to shake, I don’t remember ever being afraid of dark spaces. My intuition told me that I was in the site of sacred rituals, that most likely I was picking up residue from past shamanic rituals. But it didn’t matter because at a certain point, I had to do something, the panic was becoming insurmountable. I brought my awareness to the sensation of my hands, focusing my breath at the diaphragm (solar plexus area) as best as I could. The people I was hiking with kindly let me go to the top of the line, and I focused on the spotlights in the caverns and taking pictures until I got out. The shaking and fear came in waves and I simultaneously stayed with it and ignored it, until we were at the top. When Robbie and I got to the car, I cried. It was intense, but I payed attention to the sensation of my heart during the cave hiking as best as I could and allowed for it to flow until everything relaxed. I took the time later at the car in the day and in the week to keep my practice of yoga and awareness to help me rebalance.

This does not have to be your experience of darkness, I only offer this as a means to say that sometimes we are just in situations we cannot run from. We can only pay attention and do what we can where we are at the moment. But we must also give ourselves the time to recover and rebalance from our experiences so that we take ourselves out of the stress response of “flight or flight”. If we do not, our body accommodates to elevated stress hormones circulating in the blood, requiring more fat and sugar and setting ourselves up for insomnia and stress related issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and chronic pain.)

Pay attention to the food you are eating and pause to eat 3x/day. Perhaps you overate over the holidays, and you have guilty feelings about it. But really, at this point, there is not much you can do about it. You can take things away from yourself, force yourself to do something, and belittle yourself (or someone close to you) but it will only disconnect you from the pleasure of who you are, and deny other the pleasure of you as well. Instead, why not choose one meal where you can put your focus? For me, I start my day with something healthy and make myself a ‘green’ juice. For those who don’t understand the juicing, for me, it regulates my bowels and cleans out my digestive system. As a result, I do not crave sweets and fats as much during the day. (Juice: 3-4 stalks celery, 1 cup spinach, 1 inch nub of fresh tumeric, broccoli stalk if I have it, 1 apple, juice of a lemon)

Eat a plant based diet. There are many resources out there for doing this and for it to be delicious. It is not too complicated: choose fresh foods where you can, minimize processed foods, shop from the outer edges of the grocery store where the fresh food resides. Be aware that eating a lot of fruit can also be eating a lot of sugar. Eating more greens is always better.

Allow yourself movement out of your usual pattern. If you are used to working out hard, it is good to give yourself a period of gentle movement. The body needs a challenge to grow, but it also needs the challenge of “no challenge”, meaning a different pattern so that it can rest and recover. For some this may actually mean to up your game and give yourself a bit more physical challenge, in which case moving with a group would be helpful. But either way, having the mental attitude of gentleness and kindness after the onslaught of doing in your year can help you with a new set point and rhythm for health.

Take time to really rest in the day. Meaning: turn off your phone, the news, and social media. I have known and worked with different types of leaders: physicians, lawyers, journalists, generals, and politicians, some who have said to me, “well I have to have it on all the time just in case”. Well ok, but are you really on call every day 24/7? The body can become addicted to stress, or at least to the hormonal response within the body. You may be fooling yourself if you think you may need to have media on all the time. It is uncomfortable at first to take a break, but your body and mental health will thank you and so will your family.

Remember you are not incidental. Everything you are “doing” in your life is something that is outside of you. What is listed above is the backbone of what will make everything you do on the outside a success. So if you are looking for an excuse, there you have it. If you are not healthy, eventually you won’t be able to do any of what you want anyway.

You are the reason any pattern of living is there in the first place. Even now you are living your purpose and the life you have created, if you don’t like it, you can take the steps to change something about it now. But to make a change, you have to ACCEPT where you are now!

All the best in finding your place of nurturing during times of chaos and great change. My prayers of well being and care go out to you with love.